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TO THE POINT: Measuring wholeheartedly
June 25, 2018
For some of us our ‘school’ year is only halfway now, for others (especially the Northern hemisphere) it is nearing the end, but all of us sometimes experience the insecurity surrounding the question of progress....Those nagging questions at the back of your head asking: Are we making progress at all? Are we growing in relationships? Are the kids learning important things?
If we don’t make some time to sit down and think about this, we tend to misjudge our progress, and we either over criticize our own progress, feeling we don’t do anything, or we don’t even know when some things need more attention. Once you actually make time to evaluate progress from a distance, you will usually end up knowing where you are and what you need to do to go forward.
So when you are about halfway or at the end of a year it is a good time to think about MEASUREMENT. If one doesn’t measure you will not know where you are on your homeschooling journey…. Some questions to ask now include: Do you measure progress? How? How often? Where do you note what is happening and what not? Are you satisfied with the progress of development happening in your children so far – on a spiritual, social, physical, emotional and intellectual level? Are you achieving the goals you have set for yourselves together and individually? Are there any adjustments that need to be made? How and in what? For how long? Why?
But a word of warning - don’t measure by COMPARING yourself to others, measure only against your own goals or objectives. If you compare you will most likely feel more insecure, and this will not help the process of growth. This is the reason for clarifying some goals at the start of the year or quarter. Have a vision or a picture of what you want to achieve, and measure only against your picture.
Often parents are too concerned about the academic progress only, whereas there are other non-academic skill areas one has to include in the evaluation. Our tendency to overemphasize academics stem from our school days, because in school academic progress is the one thing an individual receive specific recognition for. So we tend to still place a lot of priority on that as a measure of progress. It is also always easier to measure academic progress than all those other soft skills, so we tend to overlook those. However, I have found that in the homeschool community there are sometimes also too much focus on only the development of soft skills and not enough emphasis on developing strong academic skills.
Balance is key and as homeschool parents, we need to realize that we are always aiming to ‘educate a wholehearted child’ implying that the child’s character, integrity and growth in emotional maturity are also very important and in some cases critical for success. In our family for example, we have one child who really need extra help in developing emotional intelligence, else he will probably not only struggle in working with others, but his self-perception is also affected by his regular outbursts. In tackling these ‘soft skills’ as part of our total homeschool vision, we aim to prevent bigger issues later on. Another child of ours need help in focusing better, so again we help and guide and direct him on a daily basis to develop this skill a little bit at a time. And even though it is not an academic skill as such, it is very much part of his ‘wholehearted education’!
Some ways of measuring include :
· Daily habits: Helping little ones with their daily routine, marking your child’s daily work such as spelling, maths, summaries done, reading completed, practice work etc. It can also include narration work, and checking their schedules. Marking is a big time consumer for me as mom, but it helps me understand where they are at, and it helps them to know how they progress and to learn from mistakes. When they get older there is value in letting them mark their own work, especially when they are working through past papers as part of preparing for exams.
· Weekly habits include measurement of progress against the specific child’s schedule. Is the child doing the work as planned? Is the plan realistic? If you discover that some work is regularly dropped, find out what is the reason for that – is it because there is no time? or is the work too difficult? or maybe the child does not understand what to do ? If it is a habit to just not do some work, then search for the root problem and address that. This may just indicate a bigger problem with your lifestyle? or is it a character trait needing attention? Adjust accordingly.
· During every holiday I look back on the quarter to measure progress against the longterm goals I have set for the year. Read through the goals and think if this is what you are busy with? Are you happy with what you see developing in your child(ren)? Are there things not happening that need attention? Are the children happy and learning along the way? Have you set realistic goals – or do you need to adjust expectations? Is there anything missing? Does anything need adjustment? This quarterly reflection will mean so much if you do it – it is feedback to you, to help you see the big picture again!
Of course the assumption is made that homeschool moms are very attentive.....so we are unconsciously monitoring our children’s welfare on emotional, physical, social and other levels as well – our gut feel usually tell us something needs attention. The trick is then to not ignore it, but to give the issue attention.
Have your notebook ready to make notes and comments and observations as you measure, especially for your own thoughts about ‘how your school is going?’. Discuss this with your husband too. Get him involved in making adjustments as needed. Adapting to improve is Step7 of the homeschool improvement process, so do not be afraid to adjust (or Let go of) if things are not going as planned. Remember that home education should always be seen as part of a lifestyle decision, so this is also the time to reflect on your family’s lifestyle, and think about what needs to adapt, change, be taken away or maybe added for reaching your family lifestyle goals.
In Jer 31:21 we read “Set up for yourselves highway markers, make for yourselves guideposts; turn your thoughts and attention to the way by which you went.”
Let us set up guide posts in our home school to measure where we are going, to be sure that we are on the right way to the place of blessing. Let us then also have the courage to correct our direction if we find we are on a way we do not want to be.
If you take responsibility for yourself you will develop a hunger to accomplish dreams.
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